Hooray! You’ve decided that it’s time to make your leap into the workforce. That may be because you want (or, frankly, need) some extra cash, you’re saving up for something or perhaps you’ve finished your studies and want to get stuck into your career. But before you can bring home the first pay-cheque, buy yourself a novelty KeepCup for your desk, or even get through your first shift, you have to leap the hurdle of the job interview.
In fact, scratch that—you have to get through the application process itself.
There are pages and pages of online jobs to trawl through. You need to write a cover letter—and then re-draft it for each application. You may be offered a part-time job on the first try. You might invest your heart and soul into applying for your ideal graduate role, only to get knocked back at the last stage. The process can be time-consuming, exhausting and super-disheartening.
It’s hard to balance your optimism and expectations when you’re sending off twenty-plus applications, each time hoping it’s the last click of ‘Apply Now’ on Seek. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to pray when there are so many balls up in the air, and how to stay mentally grounded and discern what path God wants for you.
Here are three truths to keep close to heart.
It’s not just you. Every worker has jumped through the same hoops to get their role today. Realistically, there could be hundreds of jobseekers vying for the same positions as you. If the interview invitations aren’t arriving in your inbox, it doesn’t mean your application was worthless. Making yourself stand out on paper is tough; an identical, polished résumé might make you the dream candidate to one employer but hit the slush pile for another.
You are one of a kind. Your unique skills and abilities have their time and place, even if it feels like no one is seeing them right now. If you are worried that you are stumbling because your résumé or interview skills could be stronger, then, for sure, research and ask for advice for these areas. But don’t lose heart and think that a rejection of your application is a rejection of you as a person.
God has the right plan for your future. We all have dreams and grand ideas about what we’re going to do with our lives—including where we want to work. Proverbs 19:21 offers wisdom on this—‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’. We know God is good, therefore his plans are good, much better than any we could hope for or envisage.
Here are some Bible verses you can hold tight to during the various stages of looking for a job.
When you’re nervous the night before, day of or during a job interview. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6–7).
When you’re frustrated by a lack of progress, wondering if God actually has a plan for you. ‘He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”’ (Acts 1:7).
When you’re seeking guidance. ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5).
When you’re disappointed because you missed out on an opportunity. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).
When you’re considering giving up on the process entirely. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5–6).
When the job hunt feels overwhelming, be still and know that he is God; remember that he is in control of the big picture, his timing is perfect and he wants the best for each one of us.
Best Foot Forward
While it’s important to highlight your skills and qualifications, don’t neglect to focus on who you are and what you bring to the table. Good workplaces want someone who will slot in and complement the team’s dynamic.
Demonstrating how you can contribute to team culture is tricky to articulate in a cover letter or thirty-minute interview, but it might be the one-percenter that sets you apart. In preparation for an application or interview, think about what makes you different from other people (if you’re a Christian, your faith probably influences this quite a bit) and what you value about yourself.*
As a starting point, consider Galatians 5:22–23: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’. These are the qualities God wants to see flourishing in our lives. Can you demonstrate examples of where you are displaying these fruits in your own life?
* See the companion story The Clash of Culture and Identity—good reading on this topic!
American content creator and writer Jade Carson’s Twitter thread went viral last year when she shared some of her favourite ways to answer the common final question from employers in a job interview: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ Here were some of her great suggestions:
- What does a typical day (in the job) look like?
- How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically collaborative or more independent?
- What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team/role work to support hitting those goals?
- I have the job description right in front of me, which of these responsibilities is your immediate priority?
- What are the key characteristics you think a person needs to be a great cultural fit at your company?
- What career development opportunities do you offer to your employees?
- What do you like most about working for this company?
- What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
- How do you see my skills and experience fitting with the needs of the company?
- Do you have any reservations about considering me for this role?